UK’s first 4G network to be rolled out by Christmas
UK’s largest network operator unveiled plans to launch the country’s first superfast 4G network in time for Christmas, signalling a new era for mobile phone users.
Orange and T-Mobile owners of Everything Everywhere, renamed EE, will make the state-of-the-art technology available to 20 million people in 16 cities across the UK.
The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the web on the go, high definition movies to be downloaded in minutes and TV shows to be streamed without buffering.
Unveiled at the Science Museum in London, the 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices, as well as “one more to come,” which is widely expected to be Apple’s iPhone 5.
The announcement may enrage EE competitors, including Vodafone, 3 and O2, who all threatened legal action over Ofcom’s decision to allow the launch of 4G on its existing network.
Despite concerns from competitors, cities London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham switched on Tuesday for the company’s engineers to begin live testing in preparation for the customer launch.
EE gave no date, but said 4G will be available by Christmas in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
The group plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70% and rising to 98% by 2014.
EE chief executive, Olaf Swantee, said the 4G launch will be another “great moment for the country in 2012” and will make Britain, which is lagging behind countries like the US and Germany with its 4G roll-out, a “more modern country”.
The company and network will be re-branded EE but the Orange and T-Mobile brands and logos will continue to exist.
The EE brand will cover the 4G service as well as a fibre broadband product, ready to reach 11 million households and businesses by the end of the 2012.